A bachelor with a lot of female friends may assume that he is giving off all the right signs to a potential partner of the opposite sex — but he would be wrong, a study has suggested.
Men who predominantly keep the company of women are viewed as less attractive than those who do not, psychologists found.
Researchers showed women photos of men and asked them to rate their attractiveness as a potential partner. In some of the cases, the women were also told how many female friends the men had on Facebook.
The men with the most women pals were rated about 40 per cent less attractive than the men for whom no friendship information had been given, the researchers from Monash University in Australia found.
Dr Ryan Anderson, the lead author, said that the reason women may find these men less appealing could be due to the idea that the men would have “many options” to choose from and would therefore be “hard to secure” as a partner.
Anderson, whose study was published in the journal Evolutionary Psychological Science, said the men may also appear to lack humility, adding: “Saying one has a lot of female friends may seem boastful.”
They could also be regarded as exaggerating, he said, which could elicit “suspicion and/or distrust”.
Where the women had no information about the men’s friendships, this “negative influence” would be removed, leading them to rate the men more highly, he explained.
The study also found that women with lots of male friends were less appealing to men, but to a much lesser degree: they were rated 10 per cent less attractive.
For the study, 225 heterosexual men and women were each shown four photos of members of the opposite sex, who had been pre-judged by a separate panel as being similarly attractive.
The participants were told the person in the photo was single and that they had 300 friends on Facebook. Some of the participants were also told how many of these 300 friends were of the opposite sex.
They were then asked to rate the attractiveness of each person on a scale of one to seven where one was “not at all” and seven was “extremely”.
The men and women rated the least attractive were those with 90 per cent friends of the opposite sex.
However, the researchers found that, as well as too many opposite-sex friends being a turn-off, there was also a danger in having too few of them.
Men with the fewest female friends were rated 10 per cent less attractive than the men for whom no friendship details were given.
Meanwhile, women with the fewest male friends were rated 7 per cent less attractive.
The researchers also suggested another possible reason for the results, specific to online friendships. “Relationships established on social networking sites are qualitatively different from those established in real life, as social networking sites provide a platform for an increased number of superficial relationships and emotionally detached communications,” they wrote in their research paper.
“When individuals with a high number of opposite-sex Facebook friends were presented, participants may have thought that such target individuals failed in real-life relationships with the opposite sex and they used virtual environments to compensate for unsuccessful face-to-face interactions.
“In the no-information condition, however, not knowing the gender distribution of target individuals’ opposite-sex friendships may have reduced participant prejudice toward target individuals, leading to higher attractiveness ratings.”
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